Plato suggested that a “good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” To that end, I hope to impart some knowledge and not just numbers… although I am known for being a numbers person.
As part of the NIST MEP client survey process, MEP center clients are asked to identify the top 3 challenges their companies face over the next three years. We’ve been asking this question for 5 years now and more than 35,000 clients have responded over that period. The challenges they point to paint an interesting picture of what keeps manufacturers up at night. They cite a passel of issues that have changed in interesting ways over time.
Seven in ten clients continue to cite continuous improvement as their top single challenge, but the FY 2013 data include important shifts in other key issues worth highlighting.
I suspect that these changes reflect underlying economic conditions and company needs as they identify and respond to new market and growth opportunities. As we begin a new year, it always useful to step back and see what clients say about their business, their companies, and their challenges. It is also interesting to note how these trends play out and what they may suggest for future work. Ultimately, as we begin this New Year, knowing how the toughest tasks facing smaller manufacturers are evolving is more than just a numbers game. It adds up to a useful view on trends that can help guide MEP’s work and priorities for the future.